TALENT IS NO LONGER ENOUGH
My second week of training camp in New York has been excellent. That unique feeling of getting in better shape every day is both intoxicating and ‘un-missable’.
My strength and cardiovascular conditioning is going really well. My boxing workouts at Gleason’s gym in Brooklyn have been seriously on point. They can last up to three hours, despite their breathless nature it leaves me feeling like a ‘caged beast’.
The slight downside is that I get so focussed and ‘tunnel-visioned’ that I tend to lose sight of just about everything, and can unintentionally cut people off and become very emotionally detached. Thankfully, those close to me have come to understand this, and (most of the time), no longer take it personally. It’s the toughest game and demands 100% commitment – there are NO short cuts!
I sparred with World title challenger Dmitriy Salita at the Starrett City gym in Brooklyn. Dmitriy is unfortunately best known for his terrible showing against Amir Khan in Britain, but he is so much better than what he showed that night.
I am currently weighing 152lbs, which is 12lbs over my Junior Welterweight championship limit. I tend to drop 2lbs a week in training camp and therefore, make the weight comfortably. For my title defence with Jason Cook, my weight was a comfortable 138lbs and my energy, stamina and performance was there for all to see.
This is deep preparation for my upcoming mandatory title defence against English Champion Nigel Wright, on Saturday 10th December in Peterlee, Sunderland, in the north of England.
As a British champion it is important to defend the title against all comers, anywhere and everywhere. So going up north to beat Nigel Wright in his backyard is absolutely no problem for me.
Despite having to travel and going into the lion’s den, it provides a huge adrenalin rush and any true champion must want to do this again and again.
Amir Khan will be defending his world titles against Lamont Peterson on the same night in Washington DC, where Peterson is from. You cannot fault Khan’s courage or confidence.
Going into the lion’s den gives you that extra and unique buzz that real fighters crave. The home town fighter has a seemingly intimidating crowd cheering his every move and jeering the champion.
I personally love and thrive on the adversity. My best performances have happened abroad when I am in my opponent’s territory and hugely fired up – you have been warned. I’m in a feisty mood and getting hungrier for the fight by the day.
This weekend saw a night full of quality fights on both sides of the Atlantic. James DeGale picked up the European Super Middleweight title in a very close fight that could have gone either way.
James demonstrated that he has heart as well as talent. He really must not be allowed to end up like former Olympic and World champion, David Reid, who was fast tracked and eventually badly burnt out within a few years of reaching the top.
There is no substitute for experience, no matter how good the ‘raw talent’.
James can be a World champion, but from where I sit, he really needs to be a little patient and gain the necessary experience. He desperately wants to fight for a World title by the London Olympics in 2012, but I feel he needs to wait a little longer maybe until 2013. Carl Froch, Andre Ward and Lucien Bute are quite a bit above him at this point in his career, but he can get there. Patience is the key.
The much awaited and angry local British affair for the WBO 175lb World championship saw Nathan Cleverly beat Tony Bellew in a war of attrition, nutrition and conditioning. Bellew has come down from being an amateur heavyweight and a professional cruiserweight, and has looked less than ‘honed’.
Bellew started boxing nicely and winning rounds but as he got tired, Cleverly’s better conditioning and experience took over, and saw him win by the smallest of margins (despite the insultingly wide margins by two judges).
Tony had talked a lot and loudly in the build-up to the fight and he certainly backed up his boasts, despite not winning. He clearly demonstrated that he is a talented fighter and with three ABA championships behind him he has the same quality amateur pedigree as Joe Calzaghe.
He will come again.
Nathan Cleverly was also very good, but perhaps not quite ready for the world’s best just yet. Bernard Hopkins, Chad Dawson, Jean Pascal and Tavois Cloud are the four top fighters in the division. Nathan is Europe’s best, but he has a way to go before he is in the league of the world’s best.
Frank Warren is very shrewd and not keen on risking his champions unnecessarily stateside, so I will be very surprised if Nathan fights any of the top four fighters in the near future.
The world’s two top light-heavyweights went at it in Los Angeles. The ever young, 46 year old, Bernard ‘The Executioner’ Hopkins defended his World title against ‘Bad’ Chad Dawson.
A few years ago, Chad Dawson looked like he could be a huge future star of boxing but struggled to beat Glen Johnson and a surprise points loss to Jean Pascal, took the shine off him.
Ring Legends, Roy Jones Jnr. and James Toney both thought Bernard only wanted Chad Dawson as he has looked mentally weak in some of his recent fights. Bernard is a master of pre-fight ‘mind games’, as demonstrated in his recent lopsided points win against Jean Pascal. Jean was totally intimidated and showed far too much respect, as he had been led to believe that he was fighting a living legend.
Chad Dawson was not in the least bit intimidated by Bernard. He showed admirable focus and maturity going into their bout. He pushed Hopkins backwards for two rounds, until the pair got tangled up when Hopkins missed with a strange right hand and lent over Dawson before being thrown to the ground. Hopkins landed on his left elbow and told the referee he could not continue as his shoulder had come out of place. Chad thought Hopkins was looking for a way out. The referee did not rule it a foul, so it currently stands as a TKO win to Dawson.
The HBO commentary team, Emmanuel Steward and Max Kellerman, thought that it should have been ruled a ‘no contest’. I agree with them, as no punch was landed. It was an accidental situation, which led to Hopkins being unable to fight. There will be more to come as the outrage grows.
In the build-up to the Hopkins/Dawson fight, a previous opponent who I lost to by the thinnest of margins was fighting someone I was due to fight, but took on the South African, Kaizer Mabusa instead last February.
So, I watched Danny Garcia against Kendall Holt with huge interest. I was convinced that Holt would beat Garcia, but other than a few good rounds he was clearly outpointed by the younger man.
Danny Garcia now moves towards a potential fight with Amir Khan, but this will never happen, as Khan would easily dismantle him.
Golden Boy Promotions and top adviser to the boxing stars, Al Haymon, have performed their usual magic and positioned Danny Garcia excellently. Amir Khan will vacate his IBF and WBA titles after his December 10th bout, as he looks to fight Floyd Mayweather next year. Danny Garcia will no doubt fight another IBF ranked fighter.
The IBF had me ranked 4th in the World 12 months ago in their welterweight rankings but I’m now campaigning at light-welterweight.
A rematch with Danny Garcia for the IBF World title would be a great fight that I would jump at. Since our very tight scrap, Garcia has moved steadily up the rankings with wins over Mike Arnaoutis and Nate Campbell. Over the same period, I have beaten World number 3, Delvin Rodriguez, British champion Lenny Daws and Welsh champion and former European champion, Jason Cook. So we are both in very good form, and I am sure it would be an even better fight now.
Danny Garcia will now also move just behind world number one, Ajose Olusegun, in the WBC rankings. So after Erik Morales vacates, which he will, Danny Garcia and Ajose Olusegun could well fight for that world title. Al Haymon and Golden Boy Promotions will want to steer clear of Ajose; therefore the IBF title appears to be the safest route for Garcia. They have done an excellent job of getting him so well ranked after beating former world champions and world title challengers. His fight with me has been by far his hardest and he told me after our fight that he thought I had won.
The lesson here is that in today’s fight game, without talent you will go nowhere, but without the right backing and connections it’s nearly impossible to get to the top, no matter how talented you are.